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Cavaliers notebook: Kyrie Irving knows he has to find a way around the defense of Klay Thompson, Warriors

By George M. Thomas • Jun 7, 2017 at 4:30 PM

CLEVELAND — Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson is looking to the past to help against Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and it showed in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

In that game, the Warriors, and Thompson in particular, held Irving to 19 points on 8-of-23 shooting (35 percent), including 2-of-6 on 3-pointers.

"It's not just me, we're doing it collectively," Thompson said. "But he's missed some shots he usually makes. But just because people think you're playing great defense, you can't believe in the hype; it's only two games. So he didn't catch fire until like Game 3 last year in the Finals, so we're not going to get too excited just yet."

Irving said he understands what the Warriors are doing to him defensively.

"Well, definitely throwing a lot of bodies at me," Irving said. "Definitely not allowing me to play in some comfortable positions that I'm used to. They have the ability to definitely take away some angles that are there for a split second, but if you don't take it at that split moment, then it can very well close up and you're playing against one or two defenders, and they're throwing a few bodies at you, so now you just make adjustments."

Those adjustments will have to come quickly for Irving. Thompson was hesitant to say specifically that Irving will see a lot of him, but with the way the Warriors switch on defense, it seems unavoidable.

"I know that I love guarding the best perimeter player on the other team," Thompson said. "It's a great challenge."

As for Irving, he knows that the next move is his in this particular game of chess.

"They have thrown their game plan out there, what they're not going to allow me to do, and now I've got to figure out what I want to do," he said. "That's not necessarily wait on whatever they're trying to limit me to do. And I know how important I have to be in order to go forward for us to have any chance at this series. So I relish that challenge, and I can't wait for it."

Big debate

With the Finals comes any number of hypo­thetical questions. Reporters threw a couple in the direction of the Warriors' Draymond Green.

The one of most interest to Cavs fans was "who's the best player on the planet right now, LeBron James or Kevin Durant?"

Yes, of course, he eventually gave the nod to his guy, Durant.

"Number one, I think it's all someone's opinion of who they think is the best player on the planet. LeBron is a great player. But K is great," he said. "If I, I think KD is like a 'create a player,' if you go and create this player, and you can do everything you want to do, you're going to probably create Kevin Durant. And so he's special. But both of those guys are special."

Eventually Green got to the heart of the matter.

"If I had to look at it from the outside looking in," he said. "I would be willing to bet that both of them would rather have a title than that title."

Shaking it off

Cavs center Tristan Thompson said that his lack of production on the offensive glass has been a source of frustration thus far.

The Warriors have done a nice job of inhibiting him, limiting him to five offensive rebounds in the first two games of the NBA Finals. For Thompson, that's a decent half.

"It's a new game, you can't stress on the last two games," he said. "I can't think about it, just got to go out there and be greedy and just see ball, get ball mentality and get back to that."

Cavs coach Ty Lue understands what the Warriors are doing and the fact that Thompson has lost minutes on the floor because the Cavs have been playing from behind.

"It's not anything Tristan isn't doing, I just think that against this team you have to score the basketball," Lue said. "They're doing a good job of helping off of him and roaming and getting back, but Tristan hasn't played bad, it's just he hasn't got a lot of minutes. And I think to beat this team, you have to score the basketball."

Thompson said he's remaining optimistic.

"You might have a couple of bad games but then you bounce back with a big game," he said. "So, I can't wait for [Wednesday].

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.

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